After a year hiatus, the Queen Stage of our club’s Segment of the Month Challenge returns to the slopes of Old Winch Hill.
The good weather has arrived just in time to provide a warm and pleasant backdrop for what is without doubt, the most punishing segment we have in our competition; fully befitting its status as the Queen Stage and offering double points this month to all competitors who can place in the top 10.
This most popular of local climbs needs little introduction, with just over four and a half miles of mixed terrain, present the stiffest of challenge to any rider’s overall fitness. As in prior years, this variety guarantees no single ‘type’ of rider can gain any material advantage over another. Climbers, Rouleurs and Puncheurs alike will all find some aspect of this segment that could favour their individual talents.
The segment begins a few feet into the initial hill section of Hayden Lane, as you leave the village of Warnford behind you. This first section is steep, rising to 15% in places and you’ll need to carefully pace your initial effort to avoid blowing up before the challenge has properly started.
Cresting the first rise brings some small relief, with the road pitching down and then following a quick left-right twist, crossing the disused Meon Line railway. Be extra vigilant for any oncoming traffic or walkers at this point.
The main part of the climb then begins with an initial short ramp followed by a progressive push up towards the point where Hayden lane is met by Old Winchester Hill Lane on your left. A well measured effort on this part is crucial to finishing strong and setting a good time.
A brief respite from climbing occurs, as you pass the regular sport for Alan’s coffee van. If you’re not tempted to stop, then pressing on along the false-flat takes you across the ridge of Old Winch hill, before another shorter climb, leading out of the wooded section, with a push on over the final peak at the approximate halfway mark (in distance). At this point over 70% of the climbing now behind you.
The second half of this Queen stage brings with it more rolling terrain, and requires a different approach to both power and aerodynamics. You take the initial downhill to recover and then build speed and momentum, before facing a short and fairly gentle ramp that rolls on into the long and undulating road ahead. Midway you pass the triangle junction with Coombe hill on your left and the road to Chidden and Stoke Wood on your right.
You then join the Droxford road, carrying on ahead up another gentle ramp, then following the descent that curves to your left just before the final section. A build-up of speed will be key for the final ascent that is both steeper, and a little longer than it looks, with the view of the Meon valley to your left, as you enter a wooded area with farm buildings on both sides.
This point signposts the last few hundred meters of the segment and the relatively flat final section that will almost certainly see an out-of-the-saddle sprint effort to take you to the finish line; that is marked by the small layby on your left, just at the start of the downhill section that would eventually take you to the junction with the East Meon road.
Ben Gibbs set the best VCV SoTM competition time on this segment of 13:13, back in June 2020 ,during the Halcyon days of lockdown. It will no doubt take a Herculean effort to better this impressive benchmark.
Please remember to obey the rules of the road and remain vigilant for oncoming traffic when attempting to set a time on this segment. The link to the segment is here: